By Joshua Scheer, lead reporter, County10.com
(Lander, Wyo.) – Attendees at Wednesday morning’s LEADER meeting in Lander discussed the potential impacts of a planned expansion at Shoshone Rose Casino.
No one from the Shoshone Tribe nor the casino attended the meeting to discuss the project’s details, and since then requests for comment have not been immediately returned.
LEADER co-chair Bill Sniffin said he spoke with Brian VanEnkenvoort, the casino’s general manager, about the project. Sniffin said he believes this will be the largest project in the Lander area in the 43 years he’s been here. Sniffin said plans are to expand its floorspace more than ten-fold.
“The Casino complex will be approximately 165,000 square feet and include: an indoor water park (30,000 sqft), 100 room hotel (60,000 sqft), 750 seat conventions /events center (15,000 sqft), Casino Floor for 700 slot gaming devices and various table games, support service facilities for security/surveillance, slot operations, IT, administration, employee & building services, food, beverage, retail venues and water services infrastructure,” states an advertisement on Indianz.com. The ad is seeking proposals from architects and general contractors. The ad states the total project cost is $38 million.
Sniffin said ground breaking is expected in June with completion following a year later.
The advertisement calls for the following to be included in proposals: An equipped gaming area for 700 slot machines and table games, an entertainment facility of 750 seats, three restaurants: coffee shop, buffet and upscale steakhouse, indoor water park, bus drop off and pick up area, 100 room hotel, gift shop and/or other retail area, and a lounge\bar area.
Sniffin said there has been speculation that the lounge/bar would be the first time in decades that alcohol would be sold on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Sniffin said Vanenkenvoort said he didn’t believe there would be a push to bring alcohol back to the reservation.
The small group meeting early in the Oxbow Restaurant’s back room spent most of the time discussing potential economic impacts to the area. Sniffin said he was told the larger casino would employee roughly 200 people.
“I think it’s going to drive tourism,” Lander Chamber of Commerce Director Scott Goetz said. He and Wyoming Business Council’s Roger Bower said he believed having two large casinos in the county (including Wind River Casino near Riverton) would help make Fremont County more of a destination that a pass-through region.
Goetz noted some local motels might suffer with the creation of another hotel. He also said the tribes currently opt to not collect the lodging tax. He said the tribes have not been directly approached about collecting the tax, but he said if lodging tax was collected on the reservation some of that money could be returned like it is to the other local communities.
Sniffin said LEADER’s role since the beginning was to help bring dollars into the county beyond circulating what’s already here. He believes the casino could be responsible for millions of new dollars.
There was also speculation about how far along the project is. “If they’re going to go with this timeframe, the design’s done,” Jeff Young said. “It’s aggressive and it’ll be impressive.”
With energy projects coming to the county in the next few years and the 40-unit Blue Ridge housing project on the east side of Lander, attendees said they are expecting population growth.
“Communities need to lay out a plan for all this,” Bower said.
LEADER Corporation is a Lander-based Economic Development organization that holds monthly meetings to inform the public on events and projects that affect the economies of Lander, Riverton and Fremont County. LEADER also provides assistance for new businesses that will bring development and jobs to the area.